31 May, 2011

No More Apples!

Please click here to be redirected to my new site.

Martin and Neil- professional fruit pickers.

At long last I have escaped Stanthorpe and I'm on the road once more. Heading north in search of warmer weather and more work. I have a big trip planed this Nov to Jan next year, so I still have a bit of saving to do. I'll find time for a few stops on route tho as I have about a 1500km road trip to ahead. Thats it for apple picking for now.

 Royal Galas.

 Stanthorpe is about 850m above sea level and gets pretty cold at night, so a good old fire is needed.

I have spent the last two weeks frantically picking capsicums before the first frosts. We nearly got the last of them in time, now they look rather sad. Hopefully this will be the last frosty morning I see for a while, it's not what I came to Australia fore. Tropical North Queensland here I come.

Finally- here's the Stanthorpe Brass Monkey, the towns emblem. They say it gets cold enough in Stanthorpe to freeze the ball off 'em.

Lyn and Earnie's Garden (May Require Sunglasses)

Please click here to be redirected to my new site.

Bold and brash beading plants.

'Lyn and Ernie's Garden' was the second of two open garden I saw a few months back in Pitsworth. It certainly was bright and colourful with huge swathes of annuals and beading, beneath mature palms and trees. A separate pool garden behind the house was a welcome rest for the eyes with a finely manicured lawn, specimen palms and foliage plants as well as a beautiful gazebo. Throughout the garden were some quirky, interesting and some what odd garden ornaments- each to their own. The did make people to the garden smile. 

 Some of the sunflowers among the boarders. The one on the left is 'Teddy Bear'.

 The pool garden- an oasis of green in a very bright and colourful garden.

A spectacular Kalanchoe sheltered from winter frosts beneath a Silky Oak tree.

Some of the, lets say, interesting garden ornaments.

23 May, 2011

An Aussie Cotage Garden

Please click here to be redirected to my new site.

The ‘Kearey Garden’.
 Back in April I visited two private gardens opened to the public in Pitsworth, S.E. Queensland. Both were small and immaculately maintained suburban gardens and both described as ‘Australian cottage garden’ style, a little bit of anything and everything with the colour wheel chucked out the window. The ‘Kearey Garden’, the first visited displayed many Roses, Day Lilies, Geraniums and Pelargoniums flowering in broad boarders along with many bright brash beading plants like Zinias, Galiardias and Dahlias. Potted succulents lapped up the sun along the north facing walls and a few lurked incongruously among the beading. Moisture loving Begonias and Bromeliads jostle beneath a brilliant Salmon Gum (Eucalyptus salmonophloia) with its perfectly smooth silvery white bark. Exceptionally hot summer days can near 40oC and frosts are not uncommon in the winter months, so the more unusual plants enjoy the protection of a shading pergola along the back and side of the house. The atmosphere is noticeably cooler perfect for the lush foliage plants and the perfect place to sit on a hot day.

The most prominent plant in the garden, a white barked Salmon  Gum (Eucalyptus salmonophloia) under planted with bromeliads provides the garden welcome shade.

A bright pink Zinnia and some potted succulents nestled among the beading plants. The gold/orange Graptoveria and silver/pink Kalanchoe.

Shady side passage sheltering a collection of lush and delicate plants that would soon go crisp out in the sun and a flowering Bromeliad (Achmea fasciata).

An unusual foliage plant.

Flowering rose and mimosa sp.

Resident pooch.

21 May, 2011

Moreton Bay Fig

Please click here to be redirected to my new site.

A young palm stands in shadow of a towering Morton Bay Fig and a jungle climber makes it’s way up to the canopy to get it’s share of the valuable sunlight.

Just outside of the small village of Maleny on the wet eastern side of the Great Dividing Range I saw a sign for the ‘Fig Tree Walk’. This is a small 1km long board walk through a small piece of rain forest with some spectacular trees. The most prominent tree and the one from which the walk takes it’s name is the Morton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla). This tree with its wide spread canopy, broad buttresses and tangled roots begins its life as a tiny parasitic plant high up in the canopy of another tree. The seed is deposited on a branch by a bird or fruit bat. The roots of the fig then twine their way down and around the host tree until they reach the ground. It’s at this point that the fig really takes off with all the additional nutrients from the forest floor and eventually strangles it’s host to death. Over time the host will rot away leaving a hollow lattice of roots that grow together to form a single trunk. The hollow trunk forming valuable homes for the forests wildlife. As well as housing and feeding the wildlife these trees are invaluable fore their vast root systems that hold together the forest floor to prevent flooding erosion.

A tree worthy of four photos.

A Morton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) in its prime.

A second notable tree, not for its necessary grandeur but for it’s notorious leaves, is the Stinging Tree (Dendrocnide moroides). This is not the tree to be wandering around beneath with bare feet but by the time I saw the signs I was too far from my car to be bothered to go back and put on my shoes, so while I marveled at the forest I had to keep a close eye on the path ahead. The large soft leaves are covered with tiny stinging hairs much like those of stinging nettles. Insects feast on these leaves as among the leaves they are safe from most predators that are deterred by the stings. Some insects store the toxins within them so they themselves become toxic and there for unpalatable. The tree can cope with the loss of leaves as the large leaves are soft and have little structure so the tree can quickly grow more without exhausting itself.

Looking up into the canopy of the large leafed stinging tree (Dendrocnide moroides).

One of the soft sting leaves laying on the path. Mission successful, no leaves stepped on, no stung feet.

20 May, 2011

Trapped Between the High Rises and the Waves.

Please click here to be redirected to my new site.

Wild passion flower.

 It’s been a while since I last blogged, so here comes a few in quick succession to catch up on my travels so far. These are some pictures from Noosa National Park, a few hours drive north of Brisbane, where I went for a hike early one morning a few weeks ago when visiting ‘The Lost Garden of Belli Park’. The park sits in a narrow strip of land with the Pacific Ocean to the east and holiday developments to the west. It protects a valuable coastal habitat that is vastly diminished due to beach front development. Apparently it is a haven for fruit pigeons, eastern yellow robins, rufous fantails, satin bower-birds and crimson rosellas as goannas, possums and koalas. As for bird spotting I’m not shore that I saw any of the above although they may well have been sing away in the canopy, as for reptiles and marsupials, they must have been asleep. Plants on the other hand aren’t so difficult. The vegetation in the park is variable and runs in narrow bands parallel to the coast. To the west of the coastal highway is the section or the reserve known as Emu Mountain rising about 90m above the coast. Here the soil is thin and rocky and the vegetation is known as walnut heathland, with plants like small leaved Banksia species, trunkless Xanthoreas (grass trees) and Mt. Emu She Oaks (Allocasuarina emuina) among others. The Mt. Emu She Oak in particular has had its distribution reduced. They now only exist along a 35km range of coast with the major population on Emu Mountain. To the east of the highway is the main, flat coastal section of the reserve. Here rain forest, open Eucalyptus forest and Pandanas palms flank the highway. The forest then open up to a strip of marsh/swamp,dominated by sedges and crossed by a meandering board walk, which is separated from the Pacific Ocean by large dunes. On the inland side of the dunes where there is less standing water grow the curious and variable Swamp Banksia species with their large leaves and flowers varying in colour from rust brown, orange, cream through to green. Beyond the dunes roared the breakers rolling in from the east. I was down on the beach before 6am and didn’t expect there to be many people about, but in the warm coastal air eager surfers were out making the most of the waves coming in on the early high tide.

Here are some pics from the coastal section of Noosa National Park.
Board walk emerging from the white paper bark woodlands crossing the swamp to get down the beacch.

Yellow Iris like flower in amongst the reeds and sedges of the swampy section.

One of the variable swamp Banksias alongside the board walk.

 Swamp Banksias species one of which is being eaten by a hungry beetle.

Early morning surfers catching the high tide at 6am.

These are some of the tough creeping plants that hold the dunes together against the wind.

Muscle shells on an old corroded gas can now high and dry in the dunes.

And here are some more pics this time from the western Emu Mountain section of Noosa National Park.

Banksia and Calistemon species.

Xanthorea seedhead and dodder scrambling through the endangered Mt. Emu She Oak (Allocasuarina emuina).

Banksia seed capsule and another open woody seed capsule. Sorry, don’t know what this chap is.